This afternoon the International Youth Work Trainers group has been spending some time in Open Space considering specific questions or topics for the establishment of the network. Following a hour considering the topics the group came together to feedback their thoughts and views to the wider group and for a period of discussion. As with the rest of the discussions taking place this week the group are keen to hear feedback from the wider trainer community so have asked me to share their discussions here.
What are the needs – and if the network didn’t exist what would be missing?
The group looking at needs felt that the network would be an important space for peer mentoring and informal supervisions – and a space to let off steam. It should also offer a space for trainers to physically meet, to learn from each other and provide mutual support. It was also noted that the creation of quality standards should be a key part of the network, as should be the provision of a unified voice for lobbying and representation of the trainers community.
Structure – what should the network look like?
This group stated that the network should be open and transparent – but within the established membership. There was some discussion around what systems and platforms would be needed to virtually cooperate in between physical meetings – and whether that was a space that already exists or if something new entirely should be created.
There was a proposal that a dynamic governance structure could be used to coordinate the activities of the network with a core ‘circle’ for coordination with a number of thematic ‘circles’ beneath it to feed in views and opinions from the wider membership. Initially these ‘circles’ may include Identity, Cooperation & Exchange and Our Learning – but there is no limit to the number of ‘circles’ created – though it was important to guard against creating too much of a pyramid structure.
There was also a brief discussion about whether an international non-government organisation should be created or whether the network should operate informally and within existing structures.
A trainers guild – collaboration or competition?
The trainers guild group discussed quality standards and the reality that if as a network there isn’t the responsibility taken for creating these some external body will impose them on the community anyway – so it is important that the community takes the power by creating the standards themselves.
The group felt that a guild would be an empowering concept offering peer support (to prevent lonely trainer syndrome) and a structure to pass on information and messages to new trainers by way of knowledge transfer. They also stated that the guild could operate in two strands, one vocational and the other around advocacy and providing united voice.
Continual learning – blossoming professionally
The group felt that the network should be a space for trainers to blossom professionally and to create a space for those who feel able to pass on support to those newer to the community – and to be a place where individuals can share methodologies and give feedback.
There was also a discussion around the opportunities for small scale conferences and discussion clubs held at a local level with written overviews shared through the online community. In addition to this it was suggested that regular webinars could be held by community member experts on particular topics to further facilitate the exchange of knowledge within the network.
What resources can be contributed?
The group suggested that the network could potentially have a membership fee which community members would contribute – but on the understanding that in exchange they would receive benefits. They also felt that more experienced members of the community could provide guidance to new comers and may be willing to facilitate meetings and other events for free.
Internal communications systems were discussed as something which could be provided, while there was recognition that an additional burden should not be created by whatever communications platform is chosen for the network. Several members of the group also offer practical skills such as proof reading, translation and design work. There was also a discussion about the possibility for the network to generate it’s own income by creating resources which could then in turn by sold on.
And finally one sentence to sum up the network is…
International network of trainers for trainers working in non-formal education in the youth field, to ensure quality of delivery, support it’s members and advocacy of trainers’ interests.
This isn’t of course the definitive sentence and the group are keen to hear the views of the wider community on whether this is correct so reply below in the comments with your views.
After the open space session the group came together for a council session to share thoughts and reflections from the heart to close the days work. The session was a powerful and emotional space for the group to consider the events of the day and to talk openly and frankly as a group and listen to the other participants. The space give a valuable insight into the group dynamics and an opportunity to come together and reflect collectively.
The conversation continues…
Tomorrow is the final day of the International Youth Trainers Network event taking place here in East Clare, Ireland – and the group still really want to hear the views of the wider trainer community to make sure you join the conversation and feed in your views either in the existing online trainers communities on Facebook or in the comments below.